Background: In May 2012, Northern Italy was struck by a tremendous series of earthquakes, which had devastating consequences and persisted for several months. Previous research shows that coping strategies and Theory of Mind (ToM) can help sustaining cognitive performance after a traumatic experience. Objective: We conducted a study to examine whether coping strategies used by elementary school children who were victims of the earthquakes were helpful in facing the consequences of these earthquakes by being positively associated with ToM and, in turn, with better cognitive performance. Methods: We administered a questionnaire to 517 elementary school children a few months after the earthquakes of May 2012. Results: Results revealed that active coping strategies were associated with greater ToM abilities that, in turn, were related with better cognitive performance. In contrast, negative coping strategies were negatively associated with the ability to mentalize others’ mental states and, in turn, with less positive cognitive performance. Avoidant coping strategies were positively associated with improved cognitive performance. Moreover, they were also associated with better cognitive performance via greater ToM abilities (this latter effect was present only among those perceiving stronger social support from their peers). Conclusions: Active and avoidant coping strategies and ToM are important factors associated with better cognitive performance in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Cognitive Performance in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster: The Role of Coping Strategies, Theory of Mind and Peer Social Support

Trifiletti, Elena
2015

Abstract

Background: In May 2012, Northern Italy was struck by a tremendous series of earthquakes, which had devastating consequences and persisted for several months. Previous research shows that coping strategies and Theory of Mind (ToM) can help sustaining cognitive performance after a traumatic experience. Objective: We conducted a study to examine whether coping strategies used by elementary school children who were victims of the earthquakes were helpful in facing the consequences of these earthquakes by being positively associated with ToM and, in turn, with better cognitive performance. Methods: We administered a questionnaire to 517 elementary school children a few months after the earthquakes of May 2012. Results: Results revealed that active coping strategies were associated with greater ToM abilities that, in turn, were related with better cognitive performance. In contrast, negative coping strategies were negatively associated with the ability to mentalize others’ mental states and, in turn, with less positive cognitive performance. Avoidant coping strategies were positively associated with improved cognitive performance. Moreover, they were also associated with better cognitive performance via greater ToM abilities (this latter effect was present only among those perceiving stronger social support from their peers). Conclusions: Active and avoidant coping strategies and ToM are important factors associated with better cognitive performance in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
coping strategies, theory of mind, peer social support, natural disaster, cognitive performance
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/933474
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